As Jackie Hopps stood in the sun on the platform at the train station in Bunnyburrow, her excitement was tempered by a palpable- if restrained- cynicism.
The greetings of her parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and friends ranged from the obligatory "I'm so happy for you!" to the quiet "yeah whatever", but Jackie knew if she could poll the crowd, she would find almost no one expected her to be gone for more than a few weeks. And the Academy/Air Force training experience should take more like 6 years.
And it was just as well. Jackie would prefer not to be sobbing in public anyway. She was going to a place where few- if anyone- would accept her openly, so better to harden her heart.
It began to unravel when Judy approached. The train would be arriving any minute now. Jackie had almost made it.
Rushing through obligatory wishes of good luck, Judy paused, taking a brown feather out of her knapsack.
"Do you remember when you first told me you were applying to the Air Force?" Judy began.
"Yeah. We were out jogging by Schnepf Ranch."
"Weeelll," Judy continued, presenting the feather. "While we were talking, this bird took off from the tree and dropped its feather."
Judy placed it in Jackie's palm and wrapped her hands around Jackie's. "And ya know... I have a feeling it was meant for you."
Jackie looked up at Judy as if she had just been shot.
"Let this be your good luck charm" Judy wished her sister.
It was too much for Jackie. In the stroke of a heartbeat, a crescendo of emotions were unleashed. In hundreds of family and friends, there were but a handful of animals that Jackie wanted to connect with emotionally, and Judy was one of them.